After what seemed like a lifetime of adversity, I had finally found love, a beautiful wife, a home, meaningful work, gratitude, inner peace.
Then came a lethal combination of toxic mold poisoning and lyme disease. The long-term antibiotics ravaged my immune system to AIDS levels. I was frequently in urgent care and four times in the hospital. I often had spasms in my throat that prevented me from breathing for 30 or 40 seconds at a stretch.
I'll never forget the stone cold look of death on the doctors' faces as they reviewed my medical reports and told me there was nothing more they could do. I was still in my forties when I wrote my will and prepared to die.
As a last ditch effort, a team of holistic doctors gave me over 400 infusions, transfusions, and experimental treatments that left me incapacitated for days. I went deep into prayer and meditation, and had what became my life’s epiphany — that beauty begins in darkness, and that suffering is our common soil.
Slowly, month by month, I began to heal. But not just on the outside. Something shifted inside. I awakened into a new dimension of time, a profound awareness of how our emotions, like the plants in our garden, are cyclical and can be cultivated.
The garden became for me something more than a metaphor. A seed has one destiny. Pepitas become pumpkins. An acorn becomes an oak tree. But the seed of the human spirit has infinite possibilities. You can blossom in any way you can imagine.
As I regained my health, and it was springtime in my soul again, I got a called last Mother's day, that my beloved brother and bunkmate for the first 12 years of my life committed suicide. Another winter, another season of darkness.
I'm in the garden every day now, mulching those sad feelings, weeding those "what if" thoughts, and watering the seeds of future joys.
I'm learning not just in my head, but in my heart, that without compost, there would be no roses; without ashes, no beauty. And that whatever limits I thought I had were just thoughts.
“The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind,” said Rumi. We are the generation that is lifting these limits. And if you are reading this now, you are an early witness to a joyous new birth.